#5 seed ARIZONA WILDCATS (29-7)
vs. #1 seed DUKE BLUE DEVILS (32-4)
NCAA Tournament – Regional Semifinals (Sweet 16)
Tip-off: Thursday, 9:45 p.m. EDT – Anaheim, CA
Line: Duke -8.5, Total: 148
Derrick Williams and many of his teammates are going home. Williams grew up in southern California, playing his high school ball in La Mirada, about 15 minutes from the Honda Center, where Thursday night’s Sweet 16 West Regional showdown between Duke and Arizona will take place. Among his teammates, Williams has a lot of company on the homecoming theme. Starting junior Kyle Fogg grew up 10 minutes away in Brea, while reserve Alex Jacobson is from Santa Ana. Freshman guard Jordin Mayes and sophomore starting forward Solomon Hill are both from Los Angeles. The Wildcats know the region well overall, playing at least two games in the Los Angeles region every year against USC and UCLA, not counting the games of the Pac-10 Tournament in Staples Arena. It would be easy to get caught up in the distractions of re-connecting this week with family and friends from the neighborhood, but this time the trip back to SoCal is not about pleasure. “It’s good to be home, but we’re here for business right now,” Fogg said. If the tone sounds serious, it’s because the mission is too. It’s because the opponent is Duke, defending national champion Duke, coached by Michael William Krzyzewski, who at 900 wins, is just three victories away from becoming the all-time winningest Division I men’s coach ever. Arizona can be sure of one thing, for Duke and Coach K, the next win will be just as important to them as the last 900. It’s time to get down to business. Basketball scores.
Duke is here in the Sweet 16 after surviving one of those scare games that every team hoping to be crowned the champion (or repeat champion) must survive. The Blue Devils edged Michigan 73-71. Duke led by 15 with just under 11 minutes to play, yet saw the lead dwindle to one point twice in the final 90 seconds. Darius Morris’ floater in the lane to tie the game as time expired just bounced off the back iron, and with that, the Blue Devils punched their ticket to Anaheim, and Mike Krzyzewski had his milestone 900th win, the hard way. “We told our kids it would be like playing Butler in the national championship — a very similar, tough-minded, really, really good basketball team,” Krzyzewski said. “I’m proud of our effort and obvious ecstatic that we’re moving on.” Nolan Smith led the way with 24 points, with Kyle Singler adding 13 and Kyrie Irving scoring 11 in his second game back from the toe injury that kept him off the court since early December. Irving has played 41 minutes in the two games back, and is averaging 12.5 points so far. Krzyzewski said Wednesday he hopes to play Irving even more against Arizona. “He played significant minutes last week when I thought he was going to play limited minutes, so I mentioned that he will play significant minutes (Thursday),” Krzyzewski said. “I don’t know what that means. It means he’s going to play great minutes hopefully.” Since scoring 29 points in the opening round of the ACC Tournament, Kyle Singler (16.9 PPG) is averaging 12.0 PPG on 39% shooting. Thursday would be a good night for Singler to break out of his mini-slump.
Arizona is coming off a highly-entertaining, mildly-controversial 70-69 victory over Texas in which its star player, Derrick Williams (19.1 PPG, 8.1 RPG), did what stars do at the end of the game, he made a season-saving play. Williams sliced through the Longhorns defense with 9.6 seconds left, banking in an off-balance lay-up, plus the foul, converting the three-point play to give his team the one-point lead that they would maintain. Williams said he was excited and surprised that the shot went in, since he admitted that he wasn’t looking at the basket when he released it. (sometimes it’s better to be lucky than good). In their opening round game, it was again Williams that saved the day in that contest with a key blocked shot with 0:02 to go as the ‘Cats held on to defeat Memphis for the two-point win. Now back into the tournament this season, after missing it last year for the first time in 25 seasons, second-year coach Sean Miller understands how special the opportunity is for the program. “I can’t tell you how excited we are to be moving on to the Sweet 16,” Miller said. “It’s one thing to be a part of this tournament, but when you have the experience of advancing, it’s second-to-none as a college basketball program, players, coaches.” Basketball odds.
These teams last met nearly 10 years ago in the 2001 NCAA Championship game when Duke won 82-72. Arizona is 18-15 ATS (55%) overall and 5-3 ATS (63%) on a neutral court. Duke carries similar ATS marks overall (20-15, 57%) and in neutral-site games (5-3, 63%), but is just 4-4 ATS in its past eight games. The Wildcats are 10-4 ATS (71%) after an ATS win, 9-4 ATS (69%) outside of their conference and 5-3 ATS (63%) as an underdog this season. Duke will likely win this game outright, but Arizona will cover the rather large spread. These two FoxSheets trends also support the Wildcats.
Play On – Underdogs of 3.5 to 9.5 points (ARIZONA) – after having covered 3 of their last 4 against the spread against opponent after having covered 4 or 5 of their last 6 against the spread. (251-167 over the last 5 seasons.) (60%, +67.3 units. Rating = 2*).
DUKE is 0-6 ATS (-6.6 Units) after 2 straight games committing 11 or less turnovers this season. The average score was DUKE 78.2, OPPONENT 71.5 – (Rating = 2*). Basketball spreads.
This FoxSheets trend also likes the Over in this game.
Play Over – All teams where the total is between 140 and 149.5 points (ARIZONA, DUKE) – in a game involving two good three point shooting teams (>=36.5%), in a game involving two good rebounding teams (+3 to +6 reb/game). (110-60 since 1997.) (64.7%, +44 units. Rating = 2*).